Rural Utilities Service March 1, 2016 – Federal Register Recent Federal Regulation Documents

Telecommunications Program: Notice of Availability of a Programmatic Environmental Assessment
Document Number: 2016-04381
Type: Notice
Date: 2016-03-01
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS, Agency), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, seeks public and federal agency comments regarding the preparation of a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the development of a more efficient and effective environmental review process for the RUS Telecommunications Programan environmental review process that is commensurate with the potential environmental impacts of both wired and wireless broadband projects financed by the Agency. RUS is seeking comment from interested stakeholders regarding compliance with relevant laws and regulations, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other environmental statutes, regulations, and Executive Orders applicable to the RUS Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program, Farm Bill Broadband Loan Program, Community Connect Grant Program, and Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (collectively, the Telecommunications Program). The proposed review process supports the Agency's mission of facilitating the development of affordable and reliable broadband infrastructure to improve the quality of life and promote economic development in rural America. The Agency programs provide a necessary source of low-cost capital for rural telecommunications companies (broadband, wireless, and fiber-to-the-home providers). RUS actions covered in the PEA include certain Agency preliminary decisions (such as obligation of funds and approval of interim financing requests) to eligible applicants for project proposals within eligible service areas. In accordance with NEPA, NHPA, ESA, and other applicable environmental statutes, regulations, and Executive Orders, RUS must evaluate the environmental impact of project proposals before providing financial assistance to eligible applicants. The PEA provides a broad environmental analysis of the Agency's preliminary decisions and includes a tiered, site-specific analysis at the project level that would be completed before Agency dispersal of funds and/or applicant construction.
Underlying Programs Cross-References to the Strategic Economic and Community Development; Technical Amendments
Document Number: 2016-04309
Type: Rule
Date: 2016-03-01
Agency: Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Rural Housing Service, Rural Utilities Service
Rural Development (RD) is correcting an oversight of omitting cross-reference to the Strategic Economic and Community Development priority in the underlying programs when it published the rule for the priority.
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